Fans of English Premier League football clubs, may perceive the idea of doing any business with the Scottish Premier League as something approaching abhorrent.
Over the years however, Scotland have produced or (at least nurtured) players of which anyone should be very proud, and as far as “homegrown Scottish talent” is concerned there is an ever present feeling that they are but one or two prodigious talents away from once more taking their place on the international scene.
With the transfer window now firmly shut until the new year, rumours continue to fly around the metaworld which is the United Kingdom:
Scott Brown (Celtic -> Manchester Utd)
Sir Alex Ferguson is maintaining his Scottish connection by allegedly considering a move for Celtic captain and Scotland international Scott Brown. After making an indifferent start to the season, Ferguson reportedly believes that the midfield is in need of a boost through signing a midfielder of grit and tenacity, as opposed to lightweight flair specialists.
With an ability to play box to box effectively, the likelihood of United being caught on the break and conceding silly goals decreases, and a repeat of the incisive passing game United once enjoyed en route to glories over the past 20 years, will undoubtedly see The Red Devils yield something sooner or later.
Owen Hargreaves is seemingly never to return, and with field marshal Paul Scholes set to retire within a few years, Brown would no doubt be a shrewd longer term choice.
Evidently, Brown is a man of ambition at the peak of his career, with no time for failure, hence this legendary quote from his Hibernian days:
“If I had chosen Reading I would probably be fighting a relegation battle next season and then maybe disappearing into the Championship. In two years’ time people would have been saying, ‘Remember that lad Scott Brown – whatever happened to him?’ “
Paddy McCourt (Celtic -> Aston Villa)
The Irishman’s career had been somewhat humble before a breakthrough with a move to Celtic in 2008. McCourt started life with Rochdale and it soon became apparent that his talents lay in higher echelons.
Several Premier League clubs had bids rejected, and after his release from Rochdale in 2005, he spent time in the Irish Premier League with Craggy Island, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City, with the latter of whom he won a league and cup double.
His goalscoring credentials are self evident, with his first Celtic goal – a five-defender shimmy and chip job – particularly memorable.
Aston Villa have made a surprisingly strong start to the new season, with six points from twelve despite all the managerial troubles and the loss of James Milner to Manchester City. Stewart Downing and Ashley Young may ply their trade reasonably well for Villa, but another bombarding influence will be needed when the season begins to take its toll.
Ergo, there is perhaps no better time to sign McCourt than in January. His ability to overcome adversity and climb the rungs of the footballing world are immense, and along with his creative goalscoring ability, Villa might just have the perfect fit in the unseen hole which stops them achieving their true potential.
Steven Naismith (Rangers -> Sunderland)
The loss of Kenwynne Jones to Stoke City was quickly compensated for by the arrival of 13m World Cup revelation Asamoah Gyan. Darren Bent provides a good strike partnership with Gyan, but Frazier Campbell’s days at Sunderland are seemingly numbered after producing a poor strike rate to date. As such, Steve Bruce could be tempted to look north of the border for additional firepower.
Rangers striker Steven Naismith has enjoyed a big measure of success with his club, who have recently asserted some degree of dominance over their deadly rivals Celtic. The lure of the Premier League may be too big however, and with Sunderland once again establishing themselves as Premier League mainstays, Naismith may be the next chapter in The Mackems’ future stabs at glory.
The Sunderland defence is to all intents and purposes, solid, and with a no nonsense midfield, a good strike partnership may lie in wait with views to a future 4-3-3 formation.
On the international scene Naismith is gradually breaking his way in, and if his U21 form is anything to go by, then now may be the best time to grab him. Expect a good fight for his signature within a couple of years.
Arvydas Novikovas (Hearts -> Newcastle)
An affiliation with FBK Kaunas (as a result of Vladimir Romanov’s ownership) as ensured that Hearts are never short of a Lithuanian or seventeen. Until their shock away win over the Czech Republic, the small Baltic country have never been powerhouses but may have something special in 19 year old defender Arvydas Novikovas.
He might never have played for Hearts, and could have been an established European big-shot after he impressed the coaches at Benfica, but decided to stay in Lithuania as a big fish in a small pond with Interas-AE Visaginas and FK Vilnius.
Newcastle United are in something of a transitional phase at present, and if they can survive in the Premier League with their already youthful squad, then it will be a green light for a move of this nature. One for as late as next summer perhaps, but someone needs to keep an eye on this kid.
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